How to Talk to Babies

One of the things we say again and again in storytime is: Talk to your baby! But knowing what to say to a baby, especially when they are newborns, can be daunting and even perplexing to caregivers. While I don’t think there is one “right” way to talk to babies, there is research-based methods that have proven effective in building the neural connections in a baby’s brain that leads to language development. And you know I’m all about the science!

Last November Ellen Galinsky, author of Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs, came to Vancouver to give a talk on her book and executive function (remember our previous discussion about EF?).  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend but my friends who did attend came back with some great information I’d like to share here. Galinsky has been involved in the development of an app that delivers science-based early literacy tips to parents, educators, and caregivers. It’s called Vroom.  Anyone struggle to come up with practical early literacy tips to say in storytime? What a great resource! Their website has this great 5-step guide on how to grow a child’s brain power.

My co-worker Kate Lowe saw this guide and turned it into an acronym that she now uses in babytime and in her outreach visits to teach caregivers how to talk to babies and toddlers. Her acronyms is L.A.T.S. and here’s a way to present it to caregivers:

Look

  • See what catches your baby’s eye.  Name it and talk about it.

Adult Follows

  • Let your child lead.  Respond to their sounds, actions, and expressions. Copy them or describe what they are doing.

Take Turns

  • Have back and forth conversation.  Pause after you speak.  Guess what your baby would say back to you if they had the words.

Stretch

  • Stretch the moment. Build on the conversation. Ask open ended questions like “How does that feel in your hand?” or “What do you think about that?”  Feel free to answer for your baby.

Kate also provided this example of what it might look like with a child.

Look

  • You see the ball!

Adult Follows

  • Are you reaching for it? Like this?

Take Turns

  • *Pause* You are? Wow, looks like you almost have it.

Stretch

  • Is it rough?  Does it feel bumpy?

I think the LATS model would be super easy to demonstrate during storytime, especially if you have playtime afterwards. A special thank you to my friend and colleague Kate Lowe for continuing to share her ideas here on Jbrary!

 

 

Guest Post: Turning Infant Care Into Early Literacy Brain Development

My friend Kate Lowe is back with another guest post! Seriously, everyone, this woman is good. In case you missed it the first time, Kate Lowe works as a children’s librarian in Vancouver, BC. She enjoys testing out new storytime material on her 4 year old son. She is also living proof that anyone can learn to play the ukulele. Today she is sharing a way to organize a storytime that is relevant to caregivers. Take it away, Kate!

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Caregivers spend a huge percentage of their day caring for their baby’s physical needs. That makes babytime the perfect platform to convince caregivers to turn one-on-one interactions into Early Literacy moments. Babies learn best when lessons are built into daily routines. Libraries aren’t the only ones that have realised the power of these everyday interactions. Ellen Galinsky’s book Mind in the Making states that caregivers can teach children skills such as self control and critical thinking by “doing everyday things in new ways”. In storytime we can pair a song or rhyme with a specific infant care task. You can tell the audience you’re about to sing  “burping songs” or a “getting in the stroller song”. This is our chance to remind caregivers that eye contact, expressive facial expressions, and a song can instantly turn a “chore” into a moment to connect with their baby and help develop their brains. I’m even considering getting a tattoo that says “Songs… they’re not just for bedtimes anymore”.

Here are a few examples to get you and your storytime audience inspired:

Diaper Changing

Ask the caregivers in your storytime how many times they’ve changed their baby’s diapers since they were born. They’ll laugh and give you a number larger than 10. It’s the perfect opportunity to suggest they turn some of those diaper changes into a moment to connect and teach their baby.

The Diaper on the Bottom
Tune: Wheels on the Bus

The diaper on the bottom
Comes off, off, off
Off, off, off
Off, off, off
The diaper on the bottom
Comes off, off, off
Nice and clean!

For more ideas check out Jbrary’s Diaper Changing Playlist.

Practicing Rolling Over

Model how to place babies on the ground and gently rock them side to side using your entire forearm on each side of the baby. Sing a rolling song. Besides being fun for the baby it safely introduces the first step to rolling over.  Here are two songs to try:

You Roll It
You roll it, you roll it, you roll it
And then you put the raisins in.

10 in the Bed
There were ten in the bed and the little one said,
“roll over, roll over.”
So they all rolled over and one fell out.
Th
ere were 9 in the bed… Count down to zero.

Clean Up

Encourage caregivers to “narrate their day” by singing a cleaning song. This song can be repeated and changed depending how many people are tidying. At storytime the caregivers can supply the baby’s name and help them put an object into its container (shakes, scarves, etc). The song gets bonus points because it can highlight the shapes, colours, or sizes of objects.

Cleaning Up
Tune: Twinkle Twinkle

Who will clean up with me?
Who will clean up the blocks?
I am cleaning up the red
I am cleaning up the blue
I am cleaning up the green
I am cleaning up the pink
Who will clean up with me?
Who will clean up the blocks?

Getting Dressed

Many families attending storytime will be familiar with getting-dressed battles at home. Help caregivers sidestep some of those meltdowns by encouraging them to sing fun getting-dressed songs.


Baby Put Your Pants On
Baby put your pants on, pants on, pants on
Baby put your pants on, 1, 2, 3
Baby put your pants on, pants on, pants on
Baby put your pants on, 1, 2, 3
Leg to the left, leg to the right
Wiggle and jiggle and pull ’em up tight.
Leg to the left, leg to the right
Wiggle and jiggle and pull ’em up tight.

Other Verses: shirt, socks, shoes, hat

Tummy Massage for Gas

Leg lifting rhymes are fun for babies, but they also allow caregivers to gently put pressure on their babies stomachs. If you mention this tip at baby storytime you’ll probably want to be prepared with a few books about infant massage and the contact information of a local health nurse who can answer questions about gas and digestion.

Charlie Chaplin
Charlie Chaplin went to France
To teach the ladies how to dance.
First he did the rumba, rumba, rumba
Then he did the kicks, the kicks, the kicks
Then he did the samba, the samba, the samba,
Then he did the splits, the splits, the splits.

Eating

Babies start off drinking milk and formula but they see people around them eating solids. Encourage caregivers to sing songs as they prepare, serve or eat food.


I Like To Eat Apples and Bananas
Verses:

I like to eat, eat, eat apples and bananas

I like to drink, drink, drink, milk and water

I’d like more, more ,more please and thank you

Green Zucchini
Tune: Alouette

Green zucchini, I like green zucchini
Green zucchini, that’s what I like best.
Do you like it on your head?
Yes, I like it on my head.
On your head? On my Head!
Ohhhhh. No!

What are your favourites infant care songs and rhymes to sing in babytime? Let us know in the comments!

Baby Storytime: Putting it All Together

For the past seven months Dana and I have been writing about all the elements that make up our baby storytimes.  I decided to write a final post showing how all of these elements come together to form a complete 30-minute baby storytime at my library.  Here are the more detailed posts about each element:

You can also check out our Baby Storytime Beginner’s Guide which has links to resource books and other bloggers who share their ideas and plans. It’s important to remember that everyone does storytime different and that includes babytime!  In fact, my own baby storytime has changed over the years depending on my community, the size of the group, the resources I have on hand, and the things I’m currently digging.   I’ve written up two of my programs before – a basic baby storytime and one with play activities integrated.

This baby storytime is what I do for my group of about 10-14 caregivers and their babies who come to the library each week.

1. Welcoming Activities

Please read the  first post in this series for an explanation of my welcome puppet kisses, opening message, and group introductions.  This part takes about 5-10 minutes but really sets the tone for a welcoming and fun program.  One of the things I started doing this season is posting all the lyrics to the songs and rhymes on a giant flipchart.  I sit next to the flipchart and turn the pages as we go.  It has helped tremendously in allowing caregivers to participate in the babytime.

flipchart

The two welcome songs I’ve been doing for my current session are:

I’m only able to do this song with my small babytime group because we sing a verse for everyone. Can you tell I really want people to get to know each other?

This is one of my favourites. For babytime, I do the following verses: touch your nose, touch your ears, clap your hands, beep your belly.  We also practice waving hello to each other at the end, one of the first social skills babies learn.

2.  Songs, Rhymes, and Bounces

After we do our welcome songs I move into some songs and bounces.  One of the things I’ve learned is to go slow. Sing each song 2-3 times through. Repeat songs every week.  Weave in early literacy tips and time to engage with the parents.  I’ve totally relaxed in this regard compared to when I first started.  Now I’ll throw out a question every now and then and try to get the caregivers to talk to me and each other.  It’s much less formal and much more engaging.  Here are the songs in my current rotation:

I learned this one from Mel’s Desk and it’s a babytime staple now.  Sometimes we swap out “roll” and use animal sounds like “moo, moo, sugar babies.”


I encourage caregivers to turn babies to face them while we do this bounce so that babies can watch their mouths form the words. This bounce is so fun- we squeeze, dip back, and tilt to the side.


A classic bounce.  Many of the caregivers already know this one so it’s fun for them to sing.  We do the second verse too – “One wheel’s off and the axle’s broken” and tip babies to the side.  I also added a verse called, “Bumping Up and Down in My Little Black Stroller” and we talk about ways to adapt songs to daily life.


This is a really simple bounce.  Each week we make up a new verse – a curvy road, a windy road, a rocky road.  A great way to model how to incorporate new vocabulary into baby’s life.

3.  Dancing and Movement

I love to dance and have incorporated that element into my babytimes.  Most of the songs include some lifting which the babies LOVE, but I offer modifications such as lifting baby’s arms instead.  Caregivers are also welcome to stay seated for this part. The three songs I’ve been doing lately are:


We sing this song 2-3 times and change out the name of the caregiver. Sometimes it’s Mama, sometimes Papa, sometimes Auntie.  Sometimes I ask for family names we can try out together.


My group has been loving this song lately.  We get in a circle and swing the babies towards the middle for the first group and then they each turn and face another baby for the second verse.  I have the caregivers find a partner before we start the song so they know who to turn towards.  Sometimes I’ll add a third verse that goes, “Go up and down the staircase” and caregivers can lift babies into the air.


A Vancouver favourite.  I end this song by adding on the line, “and we sit back down” which gets us all sitting and settled again.

4.  Read a Book

Please see the post I wrote on what I read at babytime for a list of read alouds that target baby’s brain development and encourage interaction between baby and caregiver. A really easy way to integrate an early literacy tip into storytime is to simply tell people why chose the book you are reading.  Does it have repetition?  Have bold, sharply contrasted images?  Is it by an author you love who has other books you would recommend?  Just explaining your choice is a tip to caregivers.

5.  Playtime

For the last ten minutes of baby storytime, I pull out one of the following play items and we sing some songs.  If I had some extra money laying around, I would invest in more baby toys for this part of the program. We usually do 3 songs that correlate to the play item.  Check out the links for examples of songs to do with each item.

6.  Goodbye Songs

I end each babytime by singing the ABCs and Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.  Then I go around and give everyone a goodbye kiss from my duckie puppet.  Caregivers are free to stay and play and talk to each other for as long as they’d like.
So that’s what my babytime looks like right now!  I’m sure it will change as I learn more and as I get access to new program supplies.  How do you do babytime? I’d love to hear in the comments!

Baby Storytime: Using Scarves and Egg Shakers

Babies are both natural musicians and dancers which as far as we’re concerned means they were made for scarves and egg shakers! We absolutely love busting out these props in baby storytime and hope by the end of this post you will too.  In case you’re interested we have written about using scarves and shakers for the general storytime crowd too. And of course don’t forget to check out the other posts in our Baby Storytime series:

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So first up the nuts and bolts: why are scarves and shakers so great for babies? Play is one of the five early literacy skills AND also one of the most overlooked. Tell parents baby storytime is not only a  chance for them to learn new songs and rhymes but also learn ways to play with their infant. Scarves and shakers lend themselves to peek-a-boo’ing, hide and seeking and best of all: tickling! Babies learn about conversations when they play back and forth games with adults and scarves and shakers can make this fun and help elicit a response from even the quietest infant. If parents are not convinced that early literacy can be this fun let them know when babies hold, scrunch, drop, and wave  scarves and shakers these movements develop their fine and gross motor skills which will make writing and typing easier down the road.  Or tell them that when you gently touch baby’s body parts with a scarf or shaker while naming them it will help baby remember the vocabulary better. And if they’re still listening maybe mention that shakers (and also scarves to some extent) help break words into smaller sounds, all the better for baby to process them!

A couple other notes on shakers and scarves: moreso than with any other storytime crowd, when they’re out they’re out. To try and get shakers and scarves back before the little ones have really had a chance to play with them would just be cruel. I tend to hand them out halfway through the program, after we’ve done a couple stand-up-and-move songs to capture the babies’ attention again and I collect them when the program is over and they’re getting ready to leave. If the group is new to you handing them out is a perfect chance to practice names and collecting them is a perfect chance to chat with parents. Sneaky, oh so sneaky! A final note, expect anything you hand to a baby to be chewed and drooled on. A lot.

Ok, let’s finally get into some songs and rhymes. Here is a list of our favourites to use with scarves and shakers. Feel free to use them interchangeably and make up your own versions. But only if you promise to share below 🙂

Peek a Boo

A baby storytime must. Have parents peek out from behind the scarf or for older babies place the scarf on their head and take turns pulling it off for the peek-a-boo.

Rain on the Grass

Another absolute gem which you can repeat several times and change the weather each time. Make sure to tell parents to drop the scarf on baby when they sing “not on me!”

Rain is Falling Down

When you live in Raincouver you’ve got to have several different rain songs and this one is soothing and calm. Encourage parents to have the scarves fall like rain on baby and gently drag them across baby’s chest when they sing splash and pitter, patter, pitter, patter rain is falling down.

All the Little Babies

Consider this our challenge to engage caregivers and have some fun. Parents will get a laugh out of this one which in turn equals happy babies!

We Wiggle and Wiggle and Stop

Similar to Everyone Can Shake, Shake, Shake this song is a fun way to introduce babies to the concept of stop before it’s an emergency. Encourage parents to try out new vocabulary like shiver, shake or tap when they’re singing at home.

Ride Baby Ride


This is another new song that I cannot get enough of. Parents can let baby hold the shaker while bouncing them on their lap or draw attention to the ch, ch, ch sound by shaking louder during those lines.

Head and Shoulders Baby


I like to tell parents this is a special version of head and shoulders just for baby- and it’s even more special when you sing it with shakers. Have parents gently tap on the body part they’re singing about and then shake out the 1, 2, 3.

Tick Tock


Ending with yet another favourite. Have caregivers rock baby or just the shaker back and forth to the rhythm and then shake it up high for the cuckoo!

That about does it for using scarves and shakers in Baby Storytime. This is your friendly reminder that we’ve got a Scarf Songs and Rhymes Playlist as well as one for Egg Shaker Songs if you want more ideas and if you’ve got ideas to share please leave them below!

 

 

Baby Storytime: Using a Parachute

In this post I’ll explain how and why I use a parachute in my baby storytimes.  I’ve written about it a little bit before, but I wanted to do a more in depth post.  Don’t forget to check out the other posts in our babytime series:

When I first started doing baby storytime, the idea of introducing a parachute was quite intimidating. Would the caregivers even like it? Would they be able to hold the edges and help me maneuver it? How would the babies respond? Do I even have time for it? I am happy to say that although using a parachute in baby storytime takes practice and patience,  I find it a very fun experience that’s been well received by my community.  Here’s the breakdown of how I do it.

Rationale
My babytimes run for 30 minutes. The last 10 minutes are spent playing.  I think it’s really important to talk to caregivers about the importance of play and give them ideas for ways to play with their babies.  I rotate through egg shakers, puppets, scarves, and the parachute as the “play” part of babytime.  I talk about ways to recreate the parachute at home – with a towel, a blanket, sheets, etc.  I want the parachute to be a chance for them and their babies to explore something new and hopefully get ideas for how to do it at home.  I also use it simply because the caregivers and babies love it.

Logistics
I’ve only used the parachute with a small to medium sized group.  Usually I get around 10-12 caregivers (+ their babies) at my babytimes and that number has been working well.  I don’t have the space or parachute to accommodate a bigger group, so if you’ve got big numbers you’ll have to access whether it is even plausible to use one. I think it would be, but I don’t have the experience to speak to larger groups.

For my group, I use a 12 foot parachute I purchased from Oriental Trading. I wish I had gone with the 20 foot one though because it can accommodate a growing storytime audience.

The Setup
The picture below shows how I like to set up the babytime when I use the parachute. The mats are for caregivers to sit on, but I also pull some chairs around for those who prefer to sit. I choose a circle layout so that when we start using the parachute we’re already sitting in the right positions.

parachute

It’s perfectly fine for babies to crawl on the parachute during the first half of the storytime. In fact, I encourage caregivers to point out the colours and texture the babies see and feel. When we are ready to start using the parachute, I offer these suggestions for ways to participate:

  • Sit baby in your lap and have them try to grab the parachute with you
  • Lay a blanket under the parachute and lay baby on his or her back
  • If baby can sit on their own, have them sit under the parachute
  • Place all babies in the middle of the parachute (works well with small groups and large parachute)

Here’s a video I found showing how to use a parachute with babies:


Unfortunately I can’t take videos or photos of my storytimes, so here are some pictures I found that illustrate what it can look like.

parachute1
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babies parachute
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babies parachute 2
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Parachute Activities

Once we’re all settled and caregivers have had a chance to get comfortable, we sing some songs and rhymes. Just figuring out how to use the parachute will be a challenge enough at first, so I use familiar songs and nursery rhymes. Just have the parachute mimic the actions in the songs. Check out our Parachute Pinterest board for more ideas, but here are some of my favourites:

  • If You’re Happy and You Know It, Give a Shake (shake it fast/shake it slow/shake it high/shake it low)
  • Itsy Bitsy Spider
  • London Bridge is Falling Down
  • The Elevator Song
  • Hickory Dickory Dock
  • Grand Old Duke of York

I have not used recorded music in my babytimes yet, but my friend Laura says Hap Palmer’s “Slow and Fast” works great with the 6-16 months crowd.  There are also so many song suggestions in the resource links below – go read their blog posts!

I also love playing peek-a-boo with the parachute. We sing Rain is Falling Down and Peek-a-Boo, I See You to end storytime.

parachute babies
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Resources
Check out these great blog posts for more ideas on how to incorporate a parachute into your baby storytime or other library programs:

Do you use a parachute in your baby storytimes? I would love to hear about your experience!  Please leave a comment with any thoughts or questions.

Baby Storytime: Favourite Books

I am so excited to write this post!  I’m always on the hunt for new books to share at storytime, especially babytime.  This post includes old books and new books, but they’ve all served me well in a baby storytime setting.  Make sure to check out the other posts in our baby storytime series too:

It is completely possible to do a baby storytime without reading a single book.  But I like to read one book at each session as a way to promote the library’s collection, model to caregivers dialogic reading, and talk to caregivers about how to choose books for babies.  The Canadian Children’s Book Centre and Zero to Three have great talking points to share with caregivers that can help them feel confident and comfortable selecting books and reading to their babies.  Now on to the  books!

1.  A Book of Babies by Il Sung Na
book of babiesI’m in love with everything Il Sung Na writes and illustrates. This book has big, bright illustrations of animal babies with short descriptive sentences. The illustrations have a touch of humour and provide ample opportunities to model asking questions and talking about what we see.

 2.  Baby Bedtime by Mem Fox and Emma Quay

baby bedtimeThis book made my 2014 Favourite Storytime Picture Books list and it’s still a babytime favourite. When I read this book I encourage caregivers to mimic the mama elephant, and we talk about using books as part of a bedtime routine.

3.  Baby Party by Rebecca O’Connell; illustrated by Susie Poole

baby partyIf you loved O’Connell’s  book, Baby Parade, then you have to get this new release!  When I read it in storytime we practiced the skill of clapping. I love that it includes a diverse cast of babies and is filled with different shapes. In addition to clapping you can encourage caregivers to draw the shapes on baby’s hands.

4.  Bunny Roo, I Love You by Melissa Marr; illustrated by Teagan White
bunny roo i love youI learned about this book from my colleague Jane, and her assessment is spot on. The illustrations are gorgeous, and when I used this book in babytime we made the animal noises featured on each page as a way to make it interactive.  I love sharing books that help caregivers develop a loving relationship with baby, and this one hits the mark.

5.  Clip Clop by Nicola Smee
clip clopThis book is traditionally used in a toddler or preschool storytime, but I simply ask caregivers to plop baby on their lap and we clip clop away.  Babies get to experience bouncing while we say the refrain together, and they can be dipped to the side when the animals fall off.  It’s a great way to show caregivers how to adapt picture books to meet their baby’s developmental stage.

6.  Everything by Emma Dodd
everything emma doddThis book is a bit small, so I would recommend it for small groups. It starts with the premise, “which part do I love the best?” and precedes to go through different body parts. A great chance for caregivers to identify the parts of baby’s face.  It’s told in sweet rhyming sentences that flow beautifully.

7.  Faster! Faster! by Leslie Patricelli
faster fasterAn old standby for me.  Because there’s basically only one word in this book, caregivers can read it with you.  We practice bouncing babies very slowly, and then faster and faster as we read.  I love when caregivers realize the different animals are actually the dad – always a delight!

8.  Fiesta Babies by Carmen Tafolla; illustrated by Amy Cordova
fiesta babiesI wish this book were bigger, but it still doesn’t stop me from sharing it in babytime.  The rhythm of the text mimics a fiesta and I chant the words rather than say them.  A beautiful introduction to Latino culture that encourages singing, dancing, and celebration.

9.  From Head to Toe by Eric Carle
from head to toeIt’s Eric Carle at his best.  Repetition, movement, and bright, colourful pictures.  When I read the refrain, “Can you?” I ask caregivers to help their baby make the actions in the book.  A great introduction to the “I can do it!” attitude their babies will soon sport as toddlers.

10.  Giddy Up! Let’s Ride! by Flora McDonnell
giddy up let's rideAnother book to bounce to!  I think it might be based off of the song, “This is the Way the Ladies Ride.”  As I read this book, we practice bouncing babies to different rhythms and at different speeds.  I love how big McDonnell’s books are too – the images really travel.  Great use of repetition and sounds.

11.  Hands Can by Cheryl Willis Hudson; illustrated by John-Francis Bourke
hands canBabies love looking at pictures of other babies. This book features a diverse cast of little ones using their hands to clap, say hello, and touch things.  Caregivers can model how to do these things as we read.  It’s also a great segue to talking about the skill of pinching and grasping which helps develop hand and finger muscles they will need later when they learn to write.

12.  I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More! by Karen Beaumont; illustrated by David Catrow
I ain't gonna paintI love singing this book and having caregivers tickle babies based on the different parts of the body the child paints.  Most of the time I can get the adults to sing with me.  I’d love to buy a set of giant paintbrushes and let the babies play with them after reading this book.

13.  I Kissed the Baby by Mary Murphy
i kissed the babySo many good babytime books by Mary Murphy!  Make sure to also check out A Kiss Like This, Say Hello Like This!, and I Like it When.  I chose to focus on this one because I can talk to caregivers about choosing books for newborns with graphic black-and-white illustrations that are good for developing eyesight.  We also get to give lots of kisses!

14.  If You’re Happy and You Know It: Jungle Edition by James Warhola
happy and you know itThere are so many books to sing – seriously, check out our board full of them!  This one stands out to me because the pages are nice and big, and it has actions like clap your hands, flap your wings, beat your chest, and blink your eyes.   I like to model to caregivers how to take a familiar song and change it up.

15.  Is Everyone Ready for Fun? by Jan Thomas
is everyone ready for funA toddler classic can easily be turned into a babytime gem.  Just have the caregivers wiggle, jump, and dance with their babies!  I love showing adults that kid’s books can be fun and silly, and Jan Thomas does that the best.  I have never not gotten some laughs after reading this book in babytime.

16.  Jazz Baby by Lisa Wheeler; illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
jazz babyI love reading this book in babytime because it’s got such great rhythm.  Because it’s a longer book, I’d use it at the beginning of storytime.  The entire family gets involved in the singing and dancing which is a wonderful reflection of community.

17.  Jump! by Scott M. Fischer
jumpThis book is so much fun to use with babies!  On the pages that say, “Jump!” all the caregivers lift baby into the air and say it with me.  If you’ve got some older babies in the crowd, you can encourage them to practice jumping themselves and point out the sense of accomplishment that comes even if they don’t clear the ground.

18.  Nose to Toes, You are Yummy! by Tim Harrington
nose to toesThis new release would work great for babies or toddlers. Simple sentences lead caregivers in interacting with their babies.  You can even listen to a song version.  I love the bright, colourful pictures.

19.  Overboard! by Sarah Weeks; illustrated by Sam Williams
overboardThis book hits home because many caregivers have experienced the “drop/throw object repeatedly on the floor” game that babies and toddlers love to play.  When I read it at storytime I have the caregivers hold baby in their lap.  When we say “overboard!” we dip babies to the side as if they are the ones falling out.

20.  Peekaboo Bedtime by Rachel Isadora
peekaboo bedtimeI pass out scarves before reading this book.  Then we play peekaboo with the babies as we read, mimicking the surprise of the child in the book.  I tell caregivers that peekaboo games are easy to recreate with blankets or washcloths at home.  Isadora has a companion book called Peekaboo Morning that’s just as good.

21.  Peek-a-Moo! by Marie Torres Cimarusti; illustrated by Stephanie Peterson
peek-a-mooAnother favourite peekaboo book.  You can use scarves with this one too, but the early literacy tip I share is about animal sounds.  Even though they aren’t real words they still help babies learn the sounds of our language.  All the caregivers help me out with the sounds when I read this one.  Cimarusti has a whole series – Peek-a-Pet!, Peek-a-Choo-Choo!Peek-a-Zoo!, Peek-a-Bloom!, and Peek-a-Booo!.

22.  Ten Tiny Tickles by Karen Katz
ten tiny ticklesThis entire post could be made of Karen Katz books, but this one is one of my favourites.  You get to count, caregivers get to tickle babies all over, and the illustrations are super cute.  My other favourite Katz books for babytime are The Babies on the Bus and Counting Kisses.

23.  The Baby Goes Beep by Rebecca O’Connell; illustrated by Ken Wilson-Max
the baby goes beepIt’s O’Connell’s second appearance on the list! I love reading this one in babytime because of the repetition.  I’ll say the first part – “The baby goes beep” and then we all say the second part together, “The baby goes beep, beep, beep, beep.”  The vocabulary is great too – boom, flip, splash, smooch.

24.  Trains Go by Steve Light
trains goThis big board book is perfect for introducing new sounds to babies.  Each vehicle is given a sound that I have the caregivers say with me.  I like that the sounds aren’t ones I’d think of myself.  For example, the diesel train goes “zooosh, zooosh, zooosh.”  Because it’s a board book I found caregivers much more likely to take it home with them after storytime. There’s a whole bunch in this series like Trucks Go, Boats Go, Planes Go, and Diggers Go.

25.  We’ve All Got Bellybuttons! by David Martin; illustrated by Randy Cecil
we've all got belly buttonsLike Carle’s From Head to Toe, this book has an interactive question on each page that encourages caregivers to play with their babies.  The rhymes flow well and the images are bright and cheery.  Lots of room for talking about the pictures if caregivers want to spend more time with the book after storytime.

If you’re looking for even more to read in babytime, make sure to check out Abby the Librarian’s series and The Show Me Librarian’s survey results.

What are your favourite books to read in baby storytime?  Let me know in the comments!

Baby Storytime: Favourite Dancing Songs

Our series on baby storytime continues!  This week I’m sharing my favourite songs for getting caregivers and babies up and moving.  Make sure to check out the other posts in this series before reading on.

I love to dance.  I especially love dancing with a bunch of babies. Toward the end of my storytime I ask the caregivers to stand up with their babies and guide them through some of these songs.  It’s usually the most fun part of babytime and the part where caregivers see the most smiles.  One thing I’ve learned to do is give the caregivers a few minutes to stand up and get comfortably situated with their child.  It’s easy to underestimate how much time it takes to stand up!  I wait until everyone’s had a chance to get on both feet and get baby ready too.

Here are some of my favourite dancing songs to do at babytime:

I love songs that let caregivers personalize the words. For this one, I tell caregivers to sub out the name “Katie” for their baby’s name. I love that each verse lets us do something different – dance, tickle, and lift.  Funny story – I completely forgot the tune to this song a few weeks ago and one of the moms said, “I think it’s to the tune of “Drunken Sailor.” Lo and behold, she was right!  That’s not the tune we use in the video, but it works in a pinch.

I always feel like we’re pretending to throw our babies out the window when we sing this song, but it’s super easy for caregivers to learn.  Some of the moms at my babytime have taken to swinging the babies in their arms for the first verse.  Before we start singing, I match each baby with another baby and talk about how much babies love to look at human faces. It’s a great way to make a new friend!  My friend Jamie taught me a third verse that goes, “Climb up and down the ladder” which is a great chance for babies to be lifted in the air.

Not every song has to have lifting in it. In fact, sometimes I think I forget how heavy those babies are!  This is a great song to use for some general dancing and bouncing. I always sing it multiple times and sub out “Mama’s” for “”Papa’s,” “Auntie’s,” and “Grandpa’s” just to show how you can play with the words of a song to fit your family’s needs.

A Vancouver classic! We have a lot of elevators here.  Most babies love to be lifted up and down, but one modification I suggest to caregivers is to simply move their arms up and down instead of their whole body.

In the video we show this as a scarf song, but it’s quickly become my second favourite elevator song to do with babies!  For the first part we dance and bounce babies, and then caregivers lift babies up starting from the ground to above their heads.  It is quite the arm workout!

This is a toddler favourite, but I started using it in baby storytime for two reasons.  Firstly, I wanted the caregivers and kids to be familiar with some of the songs when they transition from babytime to toddler or family storytime.  And we do this one every.single.week in family storytime.  It’s also just a really fun dancing song!  I encourage caregivers to crouch down with their baby when we count down and then jump up.  It can also be used as a lifting song.  Don’t forget to check out our extra verses.

I can barely make it through this one without laughing, but this is a super fun song to end babytime with.  When we’re up and dancing, I have the caregivers either swing babies for the first part or lift babies, depending how many other lifting songs we’ve done.  I always mention that popular music is still music – and babies will recognize the songs you love to sing and dance to.  Sometimes we keep it going with, “If you liked it then you should of put a bib on it.”

There you have it! My favourite ways to boogie at babytime.  What are your favourite storytime movement and dancing songs? Let me know in the comments!

Baby Storytime: Focus on Newborns

For the fourth post in our baby storytime series, I’m sharing books and songs and rhymes perfect for newborns. This post is inspired by the influx of newborns in my life lately and I hope you’ll all allow me to selfishly welcome Sidney, Mason and soon Alexander to this great place we call Earth! With these new infants in mind as well as the constant supply I have the pleasure of seeing at work, I thought a post just for brand new babes was more than warranted.

If you’re fired up about baby storytime and want to read more, make sure to check out the rest of the posts in the series!

Books and Why

I may be a bit of a zealot but I truly believe that babies should be around books as soon as they are born. It’s for this reason that every person I know ever will always receive books when a new baby arrives. Apparently lots of other children’s library folks agree with me as demonstrated by the 100 odd comments to Rebecca’s query on the Storytime Underground Facebook Group about favourite books to give a newborn. Here are a couple of our favourites for babies birth to three months and what makes them perfect for itty bitties:

  • Books with large, bright faces! Some great examples include Ten Tiny Tickles and Counting Kisses by Karen Katz, 10 Little Fingers and 10 Little Toes by Mem Fox and the Baby Step Series by Carol McDougall. Newborns seek out and pay attention to faces because it is an important source of information for them and books with images of faces will capture their attention.
  • High contrast and black and white books like I Kissed the Baby! by Mary Murphy and any of the Black and White series by Tana Hoban are also fantastic for little babies. The contrast between bold colours or black and white in the  illustrations gives baby something to focus on which helps strengthen their eyesight.

                             baby play black and white i kissed the baby karen katz mem fox

One tip we like to share with caregivers with infants is from Library Bonanza’s Early Literacy Talking Points (seriously bookmark this page!) “For a baby’s short attention span, reading shouldn’t be done in one sitting but throughout the day. That’s why it’s important to always keep a book handy. Read when you and your child are relaxed and happy.”  For more book ideas check out our Babytime Books and Songs Pinterest Board  or SLJ’s recent  Board Book Round-up for what’s new and hot in the board book world.

Songs and Rhymes

While there are so many songs and rhymes out there for babies that I LOVE I’ve endeavored to whittle down the list and really celebrate the ones which are best suited to newborns. An early literacy message to share with parents about what to sing and when (besides everything and all the time): just as baby is getting to know them, caregivers can be learning what their baby is communicating through body language. Tell parents “try choosing an upbeat song when her eyes are wide and alert and when she’s sleepy, quick to cry or turns away try a quieter, soothing song.” Here are some ideas:

The Moon is Round: This lovely song is gentle and soothing and perfect for newborns. Have parents sing it through once and point out the parts of their face and then again while they gently touch baby’s face.

Peek a Boo: This is such a great song for new infants for a couple reasons. First off, because of babies’ attraction to faces, they will tune in when parents make their face disappear and reappear. Also, this begins to model the verbal convention of taking turns. Encourage parents to make big silly faces and let their baby react. By pausing after they draw their hands away, they’re letting baby know it’s your turn and I’m listening.

Ride Baby Ride: While lap bounces and dancing songs are a lot of movement for newborns we love this song because of the playful language. I wouldn’t have parents of newborns bounce to this one, instead I would suggest that they pat baby’s back or chest while they’re held close. Babies will begin to make cooing and gurgling noises at two months and parents can encourage these noises by singing songs with silly sounds or ending a rhyme with a tickle and a coo.

What are your favourite songs, rhymes and books to recommend to parents of newborns? What tips do you send home with these little bundles? Drop us a line in the comments below and stay tuned for our next Baby Storytime post!